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10.3. Fonts and Text

The font property has also picked up a few new values in CSS2:

caption
icon
menu
message-box
small-caption
status-bar 

These values give the font property the ability to match the font family, size, weight, and so forth, according to the settings users have specified on their computers. For example, icons on a Macintosh are typically labeled using 9-point Geneva. Assuming that hasn't been changed by the user, any font declaration with a value of icon will result in 9-point Geneva for that text -- as long as the page is viewed using a Macintosh:

SPAN.OScap {font: icon;}  /* will look like icon labels in OS */

On a Windows system, of course, the font would come out different, and under other window managers (like X), it would look different still. The flexibility is certainly interesting, and it allows the author to easily create pages that have an appearance familiar to the user.

10.3.1. New Font Properties

The font section gains two new properties in CSS2. font-size-adjust is intended to help browsers make sure that text will be the intended size, regardless of whether the browser can use the font specified in the style sheet. It is often a problem that authors will call for a font that is not available to the user, and when another font is substituted, it's either too big or too small to read comfortably. This new property addresses that very problem, and should be very useful for authors who want to make sure that their documents are readable no matter what font is substituted.

The other new font property is font-stretch , which allows you to define variable widths for the fonts you use. This is similar to setting a character width in a desktop publishing system. The property uses keywords such as ultra-condensed , wider, and expanded. The changes are handled in a fashion similar to font weights, where a table of condensed and expanded font faces is constructed, and the keywords are assigned to various faces. If no face exists, the user agent may try to scale a font on its own, or it may simply ignore font-stretch altogether. Figure 10-13 shows what a font might look like for each possible value of font-stretch.

Figure 10-13

Figure 10-13. Stretching fonts

10.3.2. text-shadow

In terms of text, there is one new property, text-shadow, which to 255. In fact, 255 in decimal is equivalent to FF in hexadecimal, which explains a lot about how this method works. It's really the same as the last method: it just uses a different number system. If you have to pick between the two, use whichever makes you more comfortable.

So, similar to the way you can specify a color using three numbers from to 255, you can specify one using three hex pairs. If you have a calculator that converts between decimal and hexadecimal, then making has the effect you'd probably expect from its name: you can define a drop shadow of a given color for text. You can even set an offset and a blur radius, which means you can get cool fuzzy shadows, or even glow effects, using this property. We should fully expect to see this property horribly abused the instant it's supported by any browser; for a few examples of why, see the simulations in Figure 10-14.

Figure 10-14

Figure 10-14. Various effects using the text-shadow property



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the SPAN text (which is set to be bolder) will inherit the value of 100 and then evaluate to the next-heaviest face, which is the Bold face and which has a numerical weight of 700. Figure 5-11 shows us the visual result of all this.

Figure 5-11

Figure 5-11. Greater weight will usually confer visual boldness

Let's take this all one step further, and add two more rules, plus some markup, to illustrate how all this works (see Figure 5-12 for the results):

background-color

The background is the area of the content box and the padding and is always behind the foreground of the element. Therefore, the declared background color is applied to both the element's content box and its padding, as illustrated in Figure 6-14:

P {background-color: gray;}
Figure 6-14

Figure 6-14. Background gray for paragraphs

H1 {padding: 10px 0.25em 3ex 3cm;} /* uneven padding */H2 {padding: 0.5em 2em;} /* values replicate to the bottom and left sides */
Figure 7-57

Figure 7-57. Uneven padding

It's a little tough to see the padding, though, so let'sadd a background color, as shown in Figure 7-58:

H1 {padding: 10px 0.25em 3ex 3cm; background: silver;}H2 {padding: 0.5em 2em; background: silver;}
Figure 7-58

Figure 7-58. Uneven padding with background colors

As Figure 7-58 demonstrates, the